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Penguins 2, Sharks 1 (OT): Perils of keeping pace

The Sharks are proving they can do the right things against the league’s big bads — but what will it take to pull ahead of the pack?

Matt Nieto #83 of the San Jose Sharks collides with Mike Matheson #5 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on January 15, 2022 in San Jose, California. Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

If you’re prone to optimism, the loser point is a nice cushion for a game that saw the San Jose Sharks doing all of the right things once again, but hitting a hot goaltender — who was also making his debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins — resulting in a frustrating loss.

For most of the game, San Jose proved they can set the tone, even against one of the league’s top teams. Erik Karlsson even set up the first goal, pulling a spin-pass toward Rudolfs Balcers, who sent it in.

Despite the Tomas Hertl-led second line with Balcers and Timo Meier putting up a strong showing — and four power play opportunities, including a four-minute double minor when Jonathan Dahlen was bloodied by a high stick — the Sharks couldn’t crack Louis Domingue again.

The Penguins’ overtime goal felt like it was inevitable, as they slowly took over control of the game through the final period, building off four consecutive penalty kills.

Something has to change on the special teams. There are still too many opportunities against while the Sharks are supposed to have a skater-advantage. Still, after the last few seasons, it’s hard to not feel kind of impressed when the team has put up multiple technically sound games, especially with such a young roster.

Like I said, the loser point is a cushion. I’m gonna take a nap on it.

Comment of the Game

Admittedly, the effect is really in seeing like 15 of these comments in a row, but this one made me laugh the most:

Remember kids, just say “No” to power plays!


Hey, y’all! Apologies for missing out on the last liveblog, my laptop decided to not be cooperative, but fingers crossed for no technical difficulties tonight.

First Period

19:59: Crosby on Couture faceoffs are always going to kill me after Logan Couture called him a cheater in 2016.

18:34: A little back and forth so far, but Sharks aren’t letting the Penguins get space in the neutral zone.

18:01: Penguins forced offside. Like I said, the Sharks are forcing Pittsburgh to play defense, but would like to see more possession.

16:52: Good sustained pressure in front of Louis Domingue. Makes a save on Jeffrey Viel.

16:13: Sharks 3-on-2, gets called for offside. Would’ve been a good group going the other way, led by Timo Meier, I believe.

15:39: Balcers to Meier on a 2-on-1, Domingue with the save.

14:50: Penguins with a little bit of offensive zone time, don’t get much going before the puck is thrown out of the zone.

14:07: I think Boughner would be happy with the first six minutes. Sharks leading shots 4-1.

13:25: A shot from the inside of the circle, again saved by Domingue.

12:58: And there we go! Rudolfs Balcers with a goal, off a beautiful spinning feed from Erik Karlsson. That line has been buzzing, and good to see Karlsson help get the team on the board. 1-0, Sharks.

10:30: Penguins getting a bit physical here halfway into the first. Malkin is a big body.

9:36: Little bit of a rough shift in the Sharks’ offensive zone. Things just weren’t connecting, but the speed and drive was there.

9:03: Penguins with a quick zone entry and Kris Letang gets right up on Adin Hill to fake him out with a backhander that goes in. Things are tied at 1-1.

7:54: That goal put a little fuel on their fire, as the Penguins finally get some extended offensive zone time.

7:13: High stick on Evan Rodrigues. Penguins going to the power play.

5:33: Sharks were able to draw out the change a little longer than Pittsburgh probably would have liked, pretty decent penalty kill.

4:08: Hertl just got shoved down into the board. The Balcers, Meier, Hertl line is carrying right now.

2:09: San Jose is looking a lot quicker to the puck than I’d started expected. It’s got to help being so close to fully healthy.

1:09: Meier and Karlsson with a couple of pucks to the net. Really thought one of those was going to go in. It got under Dominque’s skate blade, so it was pretty close!

Final minute is spent in the offensive zone. Not bad energy to end on.

END FIRST: Sharks 1, Penguins 1

Second Period

19:25: DOMINGUE ROBS NOAH GREGOR. What a start! He was wide open in the slot, up close and Domingue gets just enough of a touch on the puck to keep it out.

18:10: Mike Matheson shoves Matt Nieto down in the crease, buries him and ultimately ends up shoving him all the way back into the boards. Mike Sullivan is pissed it’s not an interference call on Nieto, I’m wondering why it’s not a roughing call on Matheson, and the referees have decided they just won’t penalize anyone for that. Clown show.

17:12: Adin Hill with a real confident glove save on a point shot from Letang. Sometimes he makes it look so easy.

16:25: An underrated improvement in a healthy Erik Karlsson is his skating. Dude is so smooth and has a huge stride. What a gift.

15:08: Adam Raska breaking up plays like a big boy! That’s our kiddo!

And the Raska line gets the puck going back to the offensive zone. Not bad, not bad.

14:21: Couture with a shot on net, no dice.

14:09: Burns and the Couture line putting on a clinic in that shift.

13:46: Hertl with a quick shot high in the slot, the puck goes into Domingue’s chest and ends up back in the neutral zone.

12:51: Brock McGinn — the babiest brother of former Sharks forwards Jamie and Tye McGinn — alone in the Sharks’ zone, tries for a wraparound and rebound, there are simply too many Sharks on him. When did he become a Penguin, anyway?

11:25: Sharks get their turn playing defense for a little while here.

8:22: The Penguins broadcasters are saying very nice things about Nick Bonino, that’s cute.

They’re also saying nice things about Louie Domingue, so, ugh.

6:00: Tomas Hertl robbed!!!! Arrest this goaltender, officer!!!!

4:16: It’s been a lot of back and forth and neutral zone play. Goals are going to have to come out of taking advantage of these funky changes and such, because neither team is getting enough time to set up second and third chances.

4:05: Ooo, Couture got slewfooted by a puck hitting him in the back of the leg and knocking him down. That’s gonna bruise.

3:39: Hill with a save on Crosby.

2:41: Andrew Cogliano tries for a tip in, Domingue with an easy save.

2:36: Now Viel with a huge play off the offensive zone faceoff, forcing Domingue to make a save. He’s been better than I expected.

1:59: Marc-Edouard Vlasic just bodied Brock McGinn off the puck in the defensive zone.

1:10: Sharks are going to draw a double minor. Jake Guentzel called for a high stick on Jonathan Dahlen. They made my boy bleed.

Not totally loving the new-look top unit. Burns is too predictable. But Hertl gets a beautiful chance near the end there.

Huge opportunity coming up to start the third, with part of the first minor penalty remaining, and the second one still on the clock.

END SECOND: Sharks 1, Penguins 1

Third Period

19:16: McGinn with a shorthanded shot, of course. Hill makes the save.

19:10: First penalty expires, still two minutes of power play time.

18:47: Jesus Christ, another shorthanded chance. What is the deal with the power play?

18:28: Merkley with a legit bomb from the blueline, the puck gets lost in traffic up front. Really sharp shot there though.

17:10: Penalty killed. Not scoring on that four-minute power play is going to bite them in the ass. The Penguins are feeling too comfortable now.

15:04: As the game has gone on, the Sharks’ zone entries are getting more difficult.

13:55: Good to see the Sharks’ fourth line keeping pace with the Penguins’ third line, which has a lot of skill and speed. Raska is fantastic. There haven’t been bad match-ups between these two teams so far, I’m honestly surprised.

12:12: Louis Domingue is a bad man. Erik Karlsson wants a goal so badly.

11:18: Oh my god, Malkin just kicked the puck into the stands. Distinct kicking motion. Suddenly playing soccer.

10:02: Marcus Pettersson goes off for interference on Matt Nieto, Sharks to the power play. They’ve gotta make it count now.

8:41: Pad save on Gregor. Dude is so snakebitten.

8:02: Penalty killed. Dahlen’s got to be back on that top unit, I don’t know what else to say.

6:58: Balcers just tried to create a breakaway opportunity for himself, but he’s too small to body through the two Penguins players on him.

5:26: Cogliano with a great opportunity, Nieto gets cross-checked by Matheson again but this time it’s called and the Sharks are on the power play again.

3:26: And ... killed.

2:12: Anyone else smelling a shootout for some reason? Just me? It smells like a shootout kind of night.

1:30: Kasperi Kapanen hits the crossbar. Oof.

Here we go, overtime.

Overtime

4:23: Crosby leads Hill to the right, he passes it quickly to Guentzel, who flips it in over Hill’s extended legs. That quick and it’s done.

FINAL SCORE: Sharks 1, Penguins 2 (OT)


Pregame

Despite the San Jose Sharks sticking to their game plan and throwing everything they could at the net, the Sharks couldn’t crack the New York Rangers on Thursday. They better come in hungry for a goal against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Pittsburgh is closing out the California road trip tonight after dropping 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Tuesday.

Here’s everything you need to know to tune in:

Lines

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Rudolfs Balcers — Tomas Hertl — Timo Meier
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Noah Gregor
Andrew Cogliano — Nick Bonino — Matt Nieto
Jeffrey Viel — Jasper Weatherby — Adam Raska

Mario Ferraro — Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Ryan Merkley
Jaycob Megna — Erik Karlsson

Adin Hill
James Reimer

Expected Scratches: Radim Simek, Nicholas Meloche, Lane Pederson, Zach Sawchenko

Injured Reserve: Jacob Middleton (upper body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Nikolai Knyzhov (upper body), Jonah Gadjovich (upper body)

COVID-19 Protocol: Alexander Barabanov

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Evan Rodrigues
Jeff Carter — Evgeni Malkin — Kasperi Kapanen
Radim Zohorna — Teddy Blueger — Brock McGinn
Drew O’Connor — Brian Boyle — Dominik Simon

Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson — John Marino
Mike Matheson — Chad Ruhwedel

Louis Domingue
Tristan Jarry

Expected Scratches: Mark Friedman, Kasper Bjorkqvist, Filip Hallander, Juuso Riikola

Injured Reserve: Jason Zucker (lower body)

COVID-19 Protocol: Casey DeSmith, Bryan Rust, Danton Heinen, Zach Aston-Reese

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast regionally on NBCSCA and ATTSN-PT. Streaming is available with a subscription to ESPN+ (blackout restrictions do apply). The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET at SAP Center in San Jose, California.